|PICTURED: MARK MCNAIRY IS ONE OF THE SIX FINALISTS IN GQ 'BEST NEW MENSWEAR DESIGNER IN AMERICA' COMPETITION FOR 2012|
Womenswear has ELLE New Talent and in the US, there’s the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund through which designers like Thakoon were nurtured. What about menswear? Well, GQ in the US has- for the past six years- been running the ‘Best New Menswear Designer in America’ competition and this year, all six candidates will design a collection for The Gap. Well renowned designer Michael Bastian was part of the 2011 crop of designers, even after several years in the industry. The thing is it’s not about how long one has been in the industry. Nurturing talent is about elevating the designers’ game, helping their public profile while elevating the status of menswear in general. Alternatively, there could just be an award to acknowledge this unfortunately ignored part of South African fashion. I’m not suggesting that it be GQ SA specifically, but we all know how little attention independent local menswear receives both in the South African media and the industry itself. Colleges don’t churn out a lot of designers in this category. Interest to draw talent towards the category needs to be cultivated somehow. Would it be too much to ask for fashion industry stakeholders to consider a menswear fund or challenge that is independent of African Fashion International’s Fasttrack? I, for one, am still sad about how Nkululeko Msibi was overshadowed by his womenswear design counterparts at last year's event.